A couple of months ago, my daughter was having a issue at school where someone took a little too much notice of one of her artistic habits.
You see, like most creative people (myself included), when my daughter is getting ready to draw, she has a little tic. It happens in the moment when she is completely lost in thought and overwhelmed with the flood of ideas in her mind. She is excited at the idea of drawing something, but hasn’t yet started.
For her, this manifests itself as holding the pen in her left (dominant) hand and rapidly fluttering it back and forth between the thumb and forefinger of her right hand. When you first see it, you think she is trying to spatter ink onto the page. If you watch, she will suddenly stop and the most amazing art will suddenly appear on the page.
I do something similar. When I’m getting ready to write, I wiggle my fingers above the keyboard as I wait for the words to find their way out my fingertips. I used to do this with a pen; now I do it over a computer.
I think most creative people do something like this. To me, it’s like a warm-up for the brain.
So, when one of her classmates started to notice this, she didn’t understand and chose to make a big deal out of it. It made my daughter very uncomfortable, sad and anxious to go back to school. It became such a problem I had to talk to the teacher to have it stopped.
But in the process of getting to that point, I wanted to make sure my daughter was also developing skills to cope with these situations. At first, I was even concerned that she needed to stop doing this thing. I had noticed it was becoming much more frequent at that time, which was during the height of my radiation. She was stressed and I felt it was showing in this way. So, I talked to her about that and whether it was something she wanted to learn to stop. (Even though I wasn’t even sure she would be able to stop it.)
After a few days of discussing this and discussing how to handle the situation at school, she was growing even more self-conscious of her tic. I suddenly realized I was making the situation worse by suggesting she might want to learn to stop. Furthermore, I didn’t want her to stop — necessarily. I only wanted to make sure she was OK and dealing with the stress of our lives appropriately.
So, I told her how much I loved her quirkiness and how happy it made me to see her do it because I knew it meant a beautiful picture was going to magically appear on her paper. I told her about my writing quirk and how it had never been an issue for me because I hardly ever write when people are around. I told her to keep being herself and to ignore the haters, not exactly in those words.
She told me the next day she had thought about it and she wanted to keep her quirk. She said she liked being quirky and she thought it made her special. I started crying happy tears (so did she) and I said I thought it made her special, too, and she should do whatever she wants with it. It’s just a part of who she is and I love every bit of her, especially the quirks.